Connecticut sailor killed aboard USS Fitzgerald remembered as bright and kind
By KATHLEEN MCWILLIAMS | The Hartford Courant (Tribune News Service) | Published: July 7, 2017
In a ceremony on the Oakville, Conn. town green, veterans and state officials remembered Navy sailor Ngoc "Tan" Truong Huynh who was killed on board the USS Fitzgerald when it collided with a container ship last month.
"This tragedy that touched Tan and his family and the six other sailors is a reminder that selfless service and sacrifice is not a relic of the past," Sean Connolly, commissioner of the Department of Veteran's Affairs, said.
Huynh, a sonar technician third class, was killed on his 25th birthday on June 17 when the destroyer ship he was stationed on collided with a Filipino container ship off the coast of Japan.
Huynh was remembered as a "bright, kind" young man who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country in a ceremony Thursday afternoon hosted by the Watertown-Oakville Veterans' Council.
The ceremony was scheduled for the same time as Huynh's funeral service in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where his family now lives.
Huynh was born in Da Nag, Vietnam and moved to the Oakville section of Watertown when he was 13-years-old. He attended Watertown High School and Naugatuck Community College before enlisting in the Navy in 2014.
"It hit home deep for me being from Oakville and also from being stationed in Yokosuka," veteran Tom DeMatteis said.
For Mickey Corcoran, Hyunh's death was a reminder of how servicemen and woman put their lives at risk even during peace time.
"A tragic accident like this just reminds us of the dangers our men and women in the service face every day," Corcoran, a veteran, said.
Hyunh's obituary said he was a man of few, but wise words, and that he loved spending time with his family.
"Tan was very quiet and shy. He did not talk much, but when he did it was always something worth hearing. He had a wonderful sense of humor and loved to hear people laugh. He was incredibly smart and an easy learner," the obituary said.
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman was among the state officials who attended the ceremony.
"Tan was a young man, who from everything I have read, was always giving, never taking," she said. "He gave so much to us already and we will never forget."
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal was also in attendance as was Consul General of Japan Koichiro Doichiro.
"I wanted to come and join you to offer a prayer," Doichiro said. "On behalf of the people of Japan, I'd like to extend our deepest condolences...I'd like to extend respect and gratitude for his contribution. It was such a tragedy."
Tom Winn, a Watertown town council member and veteran, said though Hyunh was not a lifelong Watertown resident, he was one of their own.
"I usually get a little emotional, because I was a veteran and it touches close to home," Winn said. "Tan and his family were Oakville's. He gave his life. He gave us the ultimate."
Superintendent of Watertown Public Schools Bridget Carnemolla said five to 10 students from Watertown High School join the armed forces after graduation.
"Each year we stand with pride and a bit of fear as they leave," she said. "I thank you Tan for living out your dream and making us in Oakville and Watertown proud of your accomplishments."
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